Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an emergency executive action to ban the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes in New York State – the latest in a series of actions to combat the increasing number of youth using vape products, largely driven by e-cigarette companies marketing flavors that are intended to get children addicted to nicotine. DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker will hold an emergency meeting with the Public Health and Health Planning Council, or PHHPC, this week to ban flavored e-cigarettes. The Governor directed State Police and DOH to immediately partner to ramp up enforcement efforts against retailers who sell to underage youth, with the possibility of criminal penalties. Finally, the Governor announced he will advance legislation to ban deceptive marketing of e-cigarettes to teens and children. 

“New York is confronting this crisis head-on and today we are taking another nation-leading step to combat a public health emergency,” Governor Cuomo said. “Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we’re taking action to put an end to it. At the same time, unscrupulous stores are knowingly selling vaping products to underage youth – those retailers are now on notice that we are ramping up enforcement and they will be caught and prosecuted.” 

To further crack down on retailers selling tobacco and vaping products to underage youth, State Police is partnering with DOH to conduct undercover investigations across the state under The Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act, which enlists underage youth to attempt to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products. Retailers found selling tobacco and vaping products to underage individuals will now face criminal penalties in addition to civil penalties. When the legislation signed in July is effective on November 13, these sweeps and compliance efforts will continue with a renewed focus on sales to those under age 21.

Every licensed tobacco retailer is assessed annually for compliance with the law:

  • State and local enforcement officers conducted 29,552 compliance inspections during the program year April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. Of these, 22,395 were compliance checks where underage youth attempted to purchase tobacco and other restricted products.  
  • During the time period April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, a total of 386 inspections were conducted in response to 250 complaints received concerning ATUPA violations. 
  • During the time period April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, youth purchased tobacco and other restricted products 1,296 times.  A total of 985 enforcement actions were taken for ATUPA violations and more than $922,000 in fines were assessed. 

 These efforts follow a series of actions taken by the Governor aimed at addressing the growing use of vaping products, which have come under national scrutiny following a rising number of cases of vaping-associated respiratory illnesses.